With bullpen gassed, it’s Verlander or bust

The Tigers’ postseason hopes are going to ride or die with Justin Verlander.

With manager Jim Leyland ruling out both closer Jose Valverde and setup man Joaquin Benoit after three straight days of pitching, the only opponent that’s going to knock Verlander out of Game 5 in the American League Championship Series is his own pitch count.

It’s the opposite approach to the quick hook many managers use in elimination games in the postseason. But with a 24 regular-season wins, a pitching Triple Crown and a very strong case for AL MVP, he isn’t a typical pitcher, even in an elimination game.

“The only thing I’m worried today is his pitch count,” Leyland said Thursday morning. “I’m not worried about the results. If he gives up some runs, he gives up some runs. That’s just the way it is. Too bad, and [in that case] we’ll probably get beat.”

Given the pitch counts Verlander has piled up this season, he’s going to be out there a while. The only real concern Leyland cited is if Verlander throws a lot of pitches in the early innings and struggles to conserve pitches through the middle innings.

The only reliever Leyland mentioned by name for being on call today is left-hander Phil Coke, who mopped up the 11th inning Wednesday night after Nelson Cruz’s three-run homer gave the Rangers their 7-3 lead.

Leyland said Coke could pitch two innings “if he has to.”

“I hope he doesn’t have to,” Leyland said. “If he has to, we’re probably not going to win.”

In other words, Leyland continued, “I’m hoping Verlander can give us nine [innings].”

Verlander has thrown 13 innings over three starts this postseason, but two of those were shortened by rain. The one that wasn’t came in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees, and he delivered eight innings of four-run ball in that outing.

Valverde not only pitched three straight days, his limit during the regular season, he pitched multiple innings in two of those. His second inning of work Wednesday night was his downfall, giving up three hits and an intentional walk that led to four runs, three of them on Cruz’s homer.

When Leyland was asked about Valverde’s availability before Game 4, he had a one-word answer: “Postseason.”

Even the postseason, however, has its limits.

“I’m not pitching either one of them,” Leyland said. “Valverde’s going to say that he’s OK, but I’m not pitching him. We’re going to get somebody hurt if we’re not careful. We’ve got a guy that saved 51 games in a row, and you’ve got an option on him. I mean, people can bark, but they’re pitching on fumes and heart right now.”

39 Comments

It is too bad Valverde pitched a second inning last night. I understand why Leyland did it. He looked great in the 10th. The only game management decision I disagreed with was the intentional walk to Beltre. Again, I understand why he did it.

I would tell Brad Penny to get warm tonight, just in case we have another extra inning game. It would take him longer to warm up. Might as well tell him to be ready.

One injury people really haven’t talked about is Al ABQ, he doesn’t look right.

Alright Justin, we are behind you. Let’w win it and go back to Dirty D.

Geez, no pressure JV. I know he is a big boy and can handle it, but he has the weight of his team on him, so I hope he gets a few good innings in early to give himself a break.

Can you imagine being the rest of the bullpen also knowing your manager has zero faith in playing you?

That last is what I was thinking, Tiger Girl. I would have thought at least Coke would have gotten more work by this point. Now we’re stuck with JV in the Jack Morris role. Fasten your seatbelts.

I hope we get great at bats from all our hitters, and we can get 4-5 runs on the board the first 2-3 innings.

just throwing this out there… i have the feeling today that with our backs against the wall that the tigers are going to play really well because they know this could be the last game this season in Detroit. They will be play their best ball of the postseason and win 10-0 tonight. JV will dominate and the hitters will rip their bullpen apart finally…
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That probably won’t happen, but it sure would be nice…

Another eternal optomist named Dave. I like it. Without JV we would not be this far. Would Max be available? Go to the back of the closet and find them hittin’ shoes!

shouldn’t Rick lace the hitting shoes up, he does pretty good in the NL games!

Some of us here are probably considered to be somewhat negative at times.
Well, has anybody lostened to any of JL’s interviews?
Whoa, that is not the approach I would like to here from my manager.
I will give a lot of credit to Leyland for getting the club this far. I also feel that his players really genuinely like him.
I think the national media is kinda getting to the old coot.

Previously I wanted to write something like “it’s time to do or die”. But now I feel that I simply want to see Tigers playing good baseball. No matter whether we win or not. The better team should win, but the Tigers is our team anyway. Good luck to Justin and Go Tigers!

Dan, I know we can get negative because we don’t understand the logic (or non logic) from the manager. The players like him because he has a dry sense of humor. Did you see Ron Wasington get all excited when his team scored? I used to like to watch the post game. I hardly ever watch them anymore.

Nice job on the Anthem by the Tops.
Let’s do this.

And there is a tornado warning where I live. What else can happen?

What else? AJ could try to bunt?

AJ is one of the problems that need to b e fixed next year. It would be great if he simply starts hitting but he can’t be leading off, demoralizing the team in the 1 st inning and setting the tone for the game.
It’s mind numbing.

I can understand Jim’s approach, I mean let’s be honest we got 3 and a 1/2 arms in the bullpen you can trust and 2 of those arms pitched 10+ innings the last 3 days. So that gives you 1 and a 1/2 arms in the bullpen.
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Of our top 6 hitters only Miggy seems 100% and he has to be tired from playing everyday. VMart is banged up, Avila is banged up, Young is banged up, Maggs is done, and Boesh is done.
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That’s a lot to be negative about, but yet we still have a chance. Got to give JL some credit.

So inconsistent at the plate (LAustin Jackson). Major piece of the success or lack thereof.

Hopefully that’s the end of the typical trouble that JV gets himself into. 1st inning trouble then great innings and then a middle iof the game semi meltdown. Key pitch in that one was an ill-advised double up fastball to Hamilton. Seemed to me that he really needed to change him up there after Hamilton vicously ripped a foul ball back to the screen on the previous fastball. Oh well.

Just got home. I talked with alot of Tiger fans today and everyone I spoke with is a nervous wreck and worn out from the tension of these games. I’m very proud of our team. Sure, I’d love it if we come back and win, but the odds sure are against us. 96 pitches for Verlander already. That’s what I was afraid of. I wish he could pitch a little more stingy. Just throws too many pitches. With this team: there ain’t no way but the hard way. Get used to it. Maybe, just maybe if we hang in there.

Finally a critical DP FOR us and not AGAINST us!
I actually though JV was done there in the 6th and felt bad for him. The ball just seems to be falling perfectly for the Rangers.
Austin has les let his offensive struggles affect him in the field. I’m positive of that. And I was feeling the very same way in the Yankee series.
These guys are doing there best but I just can’t iamagine how they coan pull this off with the condition of their bullpen and the state of their hitting.
Fantastic effort by Raburn diving in front of AJ. Wonder if AJ noticed?
That’s how you play at this time of year.

How quickly the game changes. We are so used to this happening against us and in the course fo just a few pitches we get some huge breaks.
Cabrera’s double should actually have been a momentum draining double PLAY and instead turns the game around. It is not a game of inches it ‘s a game of millimetres! And Delmo—what can be said about him?

I think its a bad idea to ask an outfielder that has never dove for a ball to start diving in the postseason.
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That said maybe he should work on it in spring training..etc..

I’d rather he work on his hitting and base-running –truth be told.
Diving is not something you work on or practice. You see the opportunity and the occasion you either do or don’t.
As we speak he dons the golden sombrero in game 5 of the championship series.
Raburn is plaing some ball. Love it.

If I were JL I would certainly take JV out now. He may yet need some of that magic in that right arm in 2011.

Certainly, not sure why he is in with a 5run lead. We may need him in 5 or so days.

Would be nice to have those 2 runs back ;( Thank you Jim

Justin pitched a gem.
But he still shows he has things to learn.
Those 0-2 ‘arrogant” fastballs are not as devasting as his curve or change. He get so pumped up he can’t diatl himself down and still tends to think he will be able to blow that last one by him.
Disappointing but amazing nevertheless.

Phil Coke looked good, need to use him more in game 6 and 7

Oops. Some nervously, but well done finally! A huge appearance by Coke when it was so necessary. Waiting for the next game to tie the series ;)

hey great game besides the error by santiago and that walk to lead the inning by JV. Gotta say this cats have heart, ya know? Jim called it with the pitching staff today except we weren’t really in trouble with coke pitching 2 innings. The offense looked good and I’m feeling more confident that delmon is going to be ok.

Okay, we got the two wins in Detroit and now back to Texas. Time to pressure those Rangers up a little. It’s all good at this point.
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I think some of the slumping hitters on both teams are beginning to wake up. We may even have an unexpected slugfest Saturday night.
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You have to wonder how a guy can turn on a 102 mph fastball and hit it out at the foul pole. Shouldn’t we try to loosen Cruz up a little? And I mean in this series, not next season when Verlander is going to do it for sure. Everyone saw that little 1-0-0 sign that Cruz flashed.
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Delmon Young is having quite a longball postseason. And whether one likes Raburn or not, it’s pretty nice to have him in there a lot of times.
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Even though it was out of necessity, it’s about time JL trusted in Coke a little. I’m pretty sure he was coming in after the Cruz AB regardless of the outcome. JV was that close to leaving unscathed. Justin got into one of his classic grooves there for several innings. Outstanding effort.
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I don’t think Jackson will ever dive for balls; not part of his game. It’s too bad because one can only imagine the catches he could make with his ability to cover ground. He’s been here two years and I’m still undecided about him. I think he needs to be used better, that’s for certain.
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The immediate goal is to extend the season for one more game then see what happens on Sunday.

Almost forgot, for all the mindless blather by McCarver about Verlander relieving in a game 7, it’s Porcello that stands to be the man for that. We do have other starters, Tim, and some pretty good ones.
When these national broadcast teams cover our guys, you really discover how much they don’t know what they’re talking about. Can’t believe a word they say no matter which teams they’re covering. Remember that.

True enough. And now they are all saying that Santiago doesn’t “run well”. They pick up on media points and out of context comments and run with it don’t they?
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This was an incredible , gutsy, clutch performance by our guys. Really gutsy.
We did see a pretty well played game today and it is wonderful to see our team being recognized nationally.
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I won’t harp on my comments’opinions about JV and pitch selection. That is something he will figure out because he needs to in order to become a Hall-Of-Fame pitcher. Something he feels he will achieve. I don’t put anytihng past him. He is a remarkable talent and I mean that mentally as much as physically.
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Not to criticize this victory but I must say I was not please with the stubborness we saw from Leyland tonight. The announcement of Benoit and Papa not pitching tonight was , in itself, a stupid announcement to make, much less follow through on.
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I know that Benoit could have given us an out if we needed it. Let’s face it, Coke got away with it that game. He has a short half-life it seems. And when the hyper energy runs its course and they get a hit off him, things can deescalate pretty darn fast.
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The announced tandem finished the game but JL is one lucky bugger that it actually worked.
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Nice to see Avila get something done at the plate. Boy, he sure doesn’t benefit much from any calls by the umps though when he is hitting. As to his physical condition–you can see he’s hurting.
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The boys have a chance. They can get to Holland. If they make it to game 7 and AJ is still this abysmal I would sit him and play Dirks. The key word is abysmal. If he finds himself again then no I wouldn’t. He’s killing us leading off like that.

Good Call Terry!!!:
——————————————————————————————————-
“Terry Foster
Delmon Young too hurt to help Tigers

Detroit — It’s time to pull the plug on outfielder Delmon Young. He’s injured. He can’t move. He can’t run. He can’t bat. He’s in pain.

There is absolutely no reason for manager Jim Leyland to stick with Young (strained oblique), who went from the hospital ward to the starting lineup. Is Don Kelly really that bad?

I don’t care if Texas started left-hander Matt Harrison and Leyland wanted more right-handed bats in the game.

Putting too much trust in Young might have cost the Tigers the game. He failed to deliver a winning hit or sacrifice fly in the eighth inning in the Tigers’ 7-3 loss in 11 innings.

This isn’t the Young who came in from Minnesota to give Detroit a spark during the regular season. He’s a broken-down player who is pieced together with duct tape. You don’t have to be an insider or a baseball man to see Young is hurting. You can see it at the plate, where he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.”

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111013/OPINION03/110130391/Delmon-Young-too-hurt-to-help-Tigers#ixzz1aifWN1bs

way to show him up Delmon. And what was he smoking to say he did not get the job done, he did the sac fly deep enough for most players.

Foster neglected to mention that delmon just about ended that game with a dinger that went barely foul. And the non sac-fly should have been adequate to score the run. It’s not his fault that the runner on 3rd didn’t make it home. He hit far enough and he also did not STRIKE OUT. He came through and did what he was supposed to–elevate the ball even with 2 strikes on him.
Was he good in the field? No, not particularly but the guy is actually out there playing with that injury, offense and defense. Give him credit.
BTW, Terry—what did Delmon do today?

About the only alternative to AJ leading off this next game is to hit Ramon 1st. Ramon doesn’t walk much so that is a negative, but he can drop a bunt down. (I’m still astonished that JL is not taking advantage of Beltre). And he will at least get his bat on the ball most of the time. It’s not ideal but AJ is not ideal at this time. I wouldn’t even play him on Sunday unless he miraculously climbed back out of this rut he is in on Saturday. Enough is enough. And order him to bunt. JL can’t keep being so obtuse about this glaring problem and its reprecussions.
Raburn could leadoff and I would much rather give him an extra at bat than AJ.
Santiago
Raburn
Cab
VMart
Young
Peralta
Avila
Inge
AJ

These guys are playing pretty darn well for having, no team speed, a dysfunctional leadoff man, a banged up catcher, DH and left-fielder, substitute players at 3rd and 2nd and a lousy mid-game bullpen. Amazing really.

It always either makes me laugh or become irritated when writers write about sports they know little about. There are baseball writers and there are sports writers and there are some that shouldn’t write at all.
Speaking of one that’s been irritating me (which I think is his goal), check this out:

http://www.mlive.com/tigers/index.ssf/2011/10/game_5_ticket_dump_some_tiger.html

Not only does he not understand ticket sales or 4 PM starts on a weekday (times set after the tickets were purchased), he also seems to delight in insulting Detroit people. I’d like to have a little “talk” with this fellow. He’s been writing this stuff daily
all week. My wife and I drove 525 miles each way to see the Tigers in the playoffs and don’t need to be insulted by some political hack.

that writer is a moron

Congradulations Tigers! You hit the ball well and made some things happen. Good fortune even showed up to extend an inning, thank God for third base! Now, everyone pitch in together as many hands at the wheel make light work. I know they’re a good team but great teams lift one another up, usually simply by showing up and working hard. We have a game ahead of us we know our competition well. Winning the next game can be done, we simply need to do be the great team we already are!

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